Review: The Division 2 – A looter shooter done right
The grind is real.
The Division 2 really seems to be a game that more or less went under the launch radar. Yeah, our review is late but with PAX and grinding to the endgame, it took us a bit to get to review ready status. So, the game has been out for a hot minute, is it any good?
Yeah, it’s pretty good actually. Let’s talk about what makes it good.
The Division 2 lacks the issues and features some of the polish that the first game needed at launch. While there is an air of familiarity, the game feels distanced well enough from the original that it doesn’t feel like more of the same. Washington DC, while another large city, feels different from New York and navigating the city is fairly straightforward, unlike the mess that is NYC.
I did find myself sometimes getting turned around after jumping into an underpass or cutting through a building, but due to the real-life design of DC, it was easy to get back on track when getting through the main game. As far as maps go, The Division 2 throws more eye candy at you and different settings in the first half of the game than the first game did in its entire run.
Combat in The Division 2 is far more robust that it was in the prequel
The tools feel unique and impactful. I started with a drone when I was grinding by myself but quickly learned that using other tools like the chem launcher had devastating potential when I started to play with other players. From my time in the game, I did notice that the game seemed completely playable if you wanted to play with others or avoid teamplay, but there were some enemies at later points in the game that will really piss you off by killing you effortlessly.
The biggest change I noticed outside of the updated toys in combat was definitely gunplay itself. Guns feel responsive and enemies act a bit more reasonably when shot. I was surprised the first time I shot a running enemy and he stumbled to the ground and rolled before trying to get back to his feet. In close range, a shotgun blast literally tore through people rushing me or knocked bigger enemies off their feet. This is a huge departure from the bullet-sponge feeling of enemies in the original The Division. That isn’t to say that you will still find yourself putting an ungodly amount of bullets into someone, but at least they react to it now.
The game’s story and missions felt like an evolution of what The Division offered at the end
The Division 2 offers a robust and intriguing story that focuses more on survivors trying to establish some form of a new norm while you learn that your enemies may be closer than you think. Even with civilization collapsing, politicians are still going out of their way for power plays. Missions you encounter start to throw more puzzle solving elements at you instead of just shooting any person that isn’t an ally. The game as a whole grew a lot.
As you advance in the game, it becomes more apparent that you no longer just have to shoot an enemy more to kill them, but the tactics change as well. Larger fights in the end game will involve a lot of positioning and having the right gear. Enemies, for the most part, go down just as quick but the variety is where you will find difficulty.
Suicide bombers may serve as an initial wave to soften you up before heavy bruisers that can kill you with a melee attack finish you off. Close range enemies may start pelting you with powerful weapons while riflemen punish you for not sticking in cover. The game is far better for this.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the end game (no, not that Endgame)
The Division 2 has what appears to be a robust end game. That’s a good thing, but in the limited time I have had to play, I don’t feel like I ended up with much to show for it.
Getting together with a group of friends and surviving in the Dark Zone is a good time, but without a lot of time to spend grinding through the Dark Zone and end game content, I didn’t feel like I accomplished much. Weapons weren’t really breaking the threshold I was at and looking for pieces of gear and weapons just took so long due to the huge quantity of gear and rolls possible.
It felt like if I could dump a few hours every day, I could easily move the needle, but I was spinning my wheels instead. People I spoke to seemed to be having a blast but hearing how often they were running things sounded almost intimidating. With DLC coming out, I may wait to play that instead of focusing on the endgame grind.
That’s probably the worst thing about The Division 2
Even with all the improvements (and there are a ton), the game is still super grindy. End game content is clearly far more fleshed out than it ever has been but it really isn’t for a casual player. Without a ton of luck or a committed team, it’s going to take a bit to get that equipment level higher and even when you do, it seems more like the process starts right over again. It’s frustrating because there are so many great guns and interesting gear out there, but most things feel incredibly temporary.
Overall, if you were looking for a good “looter shooter” The Division 2 is going to scratch that itch raw. I mean that in a good way, but at the same time the end game glass ceiling may be discouraging. The upcoming DLC content is going to add a bunch to the overall experience and your money spent on the game has plenty of value. At very least, it’s way better than games like Fallout 76 or Anthem. If there isn’t anything better by the end of the year, The Division 2 may be a game that may sneak up and grab a few awards. Unfortunately, Borderlands 3 and Rage 2 would probably want a word.
The Division 2 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review. Curious about how we score games? Check out our in-depth Scoring Guide.
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